Tongli Water Town Tours
Tongli is an aged town located a short drive from Suzhou, which is about a hour drive outside of Shanghai. Tongli is over 1000 years old and has only recently been changed into a tourist attraction. The town is characterized by stone bridges and well preserved ancient architecture including private gardens, temples and houses.
15 small river lanes crisscrossed the town, over which spans around 49 stone bridges in variety of styles. Bridges are important parts of the town. The most famous bridges among the 49 bridges in Tongli are the three bridges called Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changqing (celebration) bridges, which has been important landmarks of the place and regarded as the sacred architecture by the locals. Whenever there is an important occasion, such as wedding, people would like to walk through the three bridges, which is supposed to bring peace, fortune and happiness in their lives.
Buildings well preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties standing by the rivers fill the town. The traditional gardens are well worth seeing. The Tuisi Garden makes a good example. The garden was constructed between 1885 and 1887 by an imperial official. In the garden, pavilions, terraces, halls, rockeries, ponds and other elements of the garden were harmoniously integrated together.
Highlights in Tongli Water Town
Tuisi garden was built in the Qing Dynasty by a degraded official. In the garden, pavilions, terraces, halls, rockeries, ponds and other elements of the garden were harmoniously integrated together. Tuisi means "rethink" in Chinese language. The owner named his garden "Tuisi" to show his positive attitude. Although he was degraded, he didn’t give up and was rethinking about and correcting his mistakes.
On the netted rivers spans around 49m bridges in variety of styles. The most famous ones are the three bridges, Taiping(peaceful) bridge, Jili bridge(auspiciousness bridge) and Changqing bridge. the three elegantly chiseled bridges standing in the center of the ancient town look like three fine stone artworks sheltered by lush vegetations.
Tuisi Garden in Tongli
The Tongli Water Town is compared to a huge museum. And the Chongben Hall is the most exquisite piece of artwork in the museum. Countless carvings about ancient stories, such as the Romance of West Chamber, A Dream in Red Mansions and the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea, can be found on the doors, thresholds and windows. Every part tells you a story.
The shape of the Jiayin Hall looks like a cap of an ancient official. Its high roof and indoor decorations make you feel like standing in an ancient government. There are also carvings about ancient Chinese stories in the hall, such as the Romance of the Three Kingdom.
Gengle means "happy to plough" in Chinese language. Its former owner’s attitude of contentment was reflected by the name of the hall. The vivid root carvings in the hall attract thousands of tourists every year.
The tower is not a tower, but the largest garden in Tongli. It was owned by a government official. The "Pearl Tower" is also a name of a local opera. Most views in the garden were designed according to the scene in the opera.
It takes a 5 minutes’ boat ride to reach the Luoxiangzhou Island. The river view is so charming that many people hope the boat ride becomes longer. The island itself is actually a garden. Pools, pavilions, rockeries and small bridges, almost every factor for a classic ancient garden can be found on the island. The city god temple on the island is the most popular attraction on the island. Thousands of people visit this temple to pray for good luck during the Spring Festival period.
Most parts of the garden are covered by tall trees, so it is a good place for you to find inner peace. You might be also interested in the paintings on the stones in the garden.
Former Residence of Chen Qubing
Chen Qubing (1874 - 1933) was a poet and revolutionist. He followed Sun Yat-Sen to overthrow the Qing Dynasty (1616 - 1912), the last feudal dynasty in the history of China. Compared with other renowned houses in Tongli, Chen Qubing’s former residence is far from luxury. Most tourists visit there just for history.
The Gufeng Garden consists of ancient beds, wood carvings, and antiques exhibition areas. The ages of these antiques are labeled on the introduction cards beside these antiques.
The Tongli Water Town is close to Shanghai and Suzhou, so we suggest you take public transportation from one of these two cities.
Take a bus at Hutai Road Bus Station, Shanghai Tourist Center (near the Eighty Thousand People Stadium), Qingbu Bus Station or north square of Shanghai Train Station. It takes around 2.5 hours and costs between 20 and 40 RMB.
Take a bus at the Bus Station of Wuzhong District, Suzhou Train Station or Suzhou South or North Train Stations. It takes around 40 minutes and cost 8 RMB.
If you do not speak any mandarin, we suggest you take subway line 4 and get off at the Tongli stop.
Never miss the chance to taste fresh aquatic plants and fish. Most of the food is sweet. famous snacks include smoked fish, dried bean curd, cakes made of glutinous rice and spring rolls (fried stuffed rolls).
Weather and Climate
Tongli is in the subtropical zone with the four seasons distinctively separated. April-July is the best season when the climate is the most comfortable and scenery is the most beautiful with sprouting plants and blooming flowers. A winter visit can give people a different experience when the town blanketed by snow is like a traditional Chinese painting.